Have you ever heard stories about friends who went into business together and been very successful only to end up mortal enemies? Or a marriage that falls apart after starting a business?

My husband and I bought a business together in 2014 and we learned a lot! We sold the business in 2018 and we managed to not kill each other in the process, but we did have a lot of disagreements and challenges.

Here are some of the things we learned through it all.

Know your strengths and weaknesses

Just like any endeavour, it makes sense to know what you’re good at and what you’re not. When we sat down and outlined our individual strengths and weaknesses, we realized that I really did not enjoy sales but loved networking and social media, whereas my husband was very comfortable with sales and disliked networking. With our strengths and weaknesses identified, could figure out what jobs we were going to do.

Roles and expectations

Just like a regular “employee” job, it makes sense to have job descriptions so that roles and expectations can be outlined. Nothing ruins a partnership faster than not knowing what each person is doing and if tasks are being done or who should even be doing them! Google job descriptions if it helps you to define what needs to be done and then assign duties accordingly.

I was better at organization and communication, so it just made sense that I would be responsible for maintaining client files and other paperwork and fielding phone calls and email. My husband is a numbers guy and a spreadsheet guru so he took care of tracking inventory, sales, and the bookkeeping.


You wouldn’t necessarily expect to have contracts when you are working with your spouse but when going into business with a friend? But in fact good contracts make good partnerships, just like good fences make good neighbours. There are a lot of really good resources online to find templates for contracts for all sorts! Find one that is close to what you need and tweak it to fit your business. And it’s always a good idea to have a lawyer give it a once over. There will be a cost but it’s worth it.

Values and goals

Before you go into business you want to make sure that your values mesh. Nothing destroys a partnership faster than a clash in values. Do you have the same goals? Are they realistic? What about work ethics? How does each person handle stress? If you get these things out into the open from the beginning there won’t be any surprises.

Also remember that when you’re in business with someone, you are going to spend a LOT of time together. Will you still get along after 12 hour days, 5-6-7 days a week? Those quirks that you might be able to overlook when you’re hanging out, could drive you crazy when you’re together day in and day out.

Another tip is to make sure that you maintain your relationship outside of business. Have clear boundaries, like agreeing to not talk shop when you’re out for dinner or just doing something fun. Even schedule non-business related activities into your calendar and commit to them!

Going into business with your friend or spouse can be the greatest adventure of your life, but be like a Girl Guide and “Be prepared.”

About Cori

Originally, born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, Cori moved to Toronto to attend Humber College where she earned a Diploma in Journalism. She worked in film and television production for a couple of years before meeting her husband and moving to Hamilton.

Since then, she got married, had three children, owned a barter network franchise with her husband, sold it and started her own Business Consulting Company and an online news portal.

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